Bois Forte Heritage Center

2021, Minnesota, Native Americans, Ojibwe, Road Trip, States

After settling into our home for the week at HooDoo Point Campground on the shore of Vermillion Lake near Tower, Minnesota Monday, we drove the ten miles around Pike Bay to the Bois Forte Heritage Center today. It’d have been a two mile flight from our campsite if we were crows. This “Atisokanigamig”, or Legend House, was founded by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa to tell the story of their people. At the beginning of our journey through the museum we paused at the very impressive mural that illustrates the five hundred year migration of the Anishenaabe (Ojibwe/Chippewa) from the east coast of North America, near the St Laurence River to the Great Lakes region. Painted by renowned Ojibwe artist Carl Gawboy and drawing upon the legends of his people it speaks to their long history prior to written record which began with the arrival of Europeans in the Seventeenth Century. From there the story continues with their traditional lifestyle, the fur trade, a brief gold rush in the area, treaties with the US government, Indian Schools, on to examples of beautiful beaded and birchbark crafts, and the people today. But just as valuable to us was the conversation with the gentleman at the front desk. As his infant child slept he spoke at length with us about his people and his own interest in learning more about the them. He also helped us with the pronunciation of Anishenaabe and Bois Forte (boys fort) as well as the meanings of the three names used to identify his people. “Anishenaabe” means “original or first man” and is the name they used to describe themselves. “Ojibwe” means “rabbit choker” and was a derogatory name given them by native enemies, and finally “Chippewa” is a French version of “Ojibwe”. He seemed a bit impressed with our little bit of knowledge but challenged us to learn more and even offered to quiz us about things we learned in the museum in exchange for a discount on our purchases in the gift shop. Our personal journey with the Ojibwe began with our visit to The Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St Ignace in 2019 and has continued since. We’ve definitely come away today, from one of the places where they have settled, with even more appreciation for these people and their culture.




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